Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An Unstructured Day In The Life...

Someone on my local list will start homeschooling her child soon and asked members for examples of homeschool schedules. I'm copying and pasting my answer to her here because I realize that this response is something I want to remember. As eclectic learners, we have quite an equal mix of structured and unstructured days. I really love the unstructured ones best although it's sometimes a challenge to remind myself to let things go. Perhaps including it here will help inspire me on another day. (Note: I've edited this slightly from the original version for privacy and accuracy.)


Hi ...,
I have a 9yo only child, a boy. What's worked really well for us this semester is to alternate an unstructured day with a slightly more structured one.

Today was a good example of an unstructured day. 
8.30: Woke up and showered
9-9.30: He made me breakfast (toast with cheese) - we take turns making breakfast.
9.30-10.20: He read (Twisted Tales from Shakespeare and The Poisoner's Handbook). 

10.30: Play date with homeschooled 10yo buddy. This buddy is as crazy about math as kiddo is so the boys worked on developing kiddo's idea about building cubes using colorful blocks in such a way that two of the same colors don't touch each other on any face. They discovered some sort of pattern and I know I should ask kiddo to write it down before I forget to. This is one of the ways that I actually manage to have him write because if I gave him some meaningless prompt, he will resist it, so I should grab the opportunity while I can! ;)

About 1pm: he and I went grocery shopping, always a time for interesting discussions! I love taking my time in the store with him because there's always something fun to see or talk about. We used to be asked why he's not in school and is in the store with me but now all the cashiers know we homeschool.

After lunch: he did about an hour of speech and debate homework for a class he's taking (done voluntarily without prompting, hurray!).

3pm-ish: He watched two lectures from a Teaching Company math video and worked on some math problems. I gave him a choice for math and he chose the videos instead of his book.

4.30-6.15pm: Snack, m
ore reading and folding some origami and creating various geometric structures with buckyballs while reading. If we hadn't been out today, kiddo would have chosen to read while creating various buckyball geometric structures the whole day.

6.30pm: Swim class. (On non swimming days he brisk-walks on the treadmill while reading.)

7-8.30pm: Came home, showered, had dinner. After dinner he watched CNN student news, and some TED videos, listened to a Librivox recording of one chapter from our classic lit selection of the month and then, was giggling to a Terry Jones history video on Netflix.

10.45-11.30pm: We'll probably read aloud from another book before he sleeps.

Since we took it easy today, tomorrow I may suggest a little more structure. On a more structured day, I aim for about an hour of math and an hour of foreign languages in addition to any debate homework and free-choice videos he watches or books he reads.

One huge blessing for us is not having to rush. The example of grocery shopping aside, homeschooling allows us to have valuable quality time with people we love to spend time with. Kiddo's piano teacher for example is able to give him a longer piano lesson for free because we always get there early and during the extra minutes, he always regales kiddo with fun stories from his younger days. It's almost like having a short living history lesson every week!

We actually started homeschooling in a much, much more structured way and soon found that we learned best with less. We also have cycles where we are so much more structured than the above or so much less structured too. It really depends on how we're feeling. When we sign up for online classes, we tend to be more structured because there's usually a regular homework schedule or deadline involved with such classes. We find alternating relaxed semesters with structured ones to be more manageable. The variety from one semester to the other is nice.


  1. I love this post! :)

    "We actually started homeschooling in a much, much more structured way and soon found that we learned best with less" - This is us too. Less is more I believe, at least for my kiddos.

  2. Love this post. It will be a nice reminder for you. We are very similar in our styles and flow back and forth between little to alot of for us too :-)

  3. Thanks ladies, how wonderful that we have this in common!

  4. We go in cycles too. It's in a very relaxed phase atm :)


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